After over 20 years in the personal training business, I've come to realize that many people still have problems achieving their personal fitness goals. While this is good for my business, the vast majority of people will be training on their own without a trainer. So it’s with these folks in mind that I'm writing this.
Regardless of the goal (fat loss, muscle gain, or performance), I believe there are a few commonalities to the lack of results the average trainee experiences.
Here are my top 5:
1. Trying to create the perfect workout
While knowledge is a great thing, many trainees experience “analysis paralysis." The Internet age has made this a bigger problem than ever before.
Simply put, there is too much information available. We are constantly being bombarded by the latest tips, tricks and secrets to six-pack abs or buns of steel. And it all sounds good.
The result of this information overload is generally an over-complicated, convoluted, impossible to maintain program. By the time you’ve sprinkled in a little of program A with a dash of program B to an already too long program C, the resulting workout is a Frankenstein-like behemoth that takes too long to get through. You’re going to lose your mind for sure!
Do yourself a favor ... pick one program that fits your goals and sensibilities and don't add anything to it.
2. Program Hopping
Similar to the above advice, once you’ve picked a program, stick to it.
Your program may be perfect, but you need to give it time to actually let the results come to fruition. The old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" comes to mind.
I think most people worry too much about a program becoming stale. Stick to a program for the length of time the creator of the program suggests. This could be as little as 4 weeks or as long as a few months.
3. Forgetting the Basics
With a plethora of YouTube videos, exercise books and fitness DVDs all around, it's easy to fall prey to a "newer is better" mentality. Cool gadgets and intense-sounding routines with never-before-seen exercise secrets can be seductive, but they pale in comparison to old standbys like squats, deadlifts, bench presses and pull-ups.
There are many variations of these lifts that you can apply to help counter the boredom that can arise from doing the same exercises all the time. But remember the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your results are going to come from 20 percent of the exercises you use. Make sure the basics are your 20 percent foundation.
ThePostGame brings you the most interesting sports stories on the web.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!
4. Lack of Intensity
Intensity simple means how hard you are training. Everyone (except perhaps CrossFitters) seems to be concerned with overtraining, when in fact, they are more likely undertraining.
If my years in the public gym setting taught me anything, it's that far too many people go through the motions when they are at the gym. They do the same workout routine with the same weights week in and week out and wonder why they aren't making progress. It's simply not enough just to show up (although there are days when just showing up is what matters!)
Intensity can be achieved by lifting more weight, lifting the same weight for more sets or reps (called "volume"), decreasing rest periods, and even lifting a weight faster (only appropriate for certain exercises).
5. Lack of Progression
Closely linked to intensity, progression simply means that you are trying to get better.
Progression is not always linear (in fact, except in rank beginners, it’s rarely linear), but it does have to be a goal.
Again, think more weight, sets, reps; and/or less rest. Also experiment with more difficult exercises and routines as you master the current ones. (But remember number 3 ... the basics should always be a cornerstone of your program.)
In closing, if you find your training has lost its mojo, it's time to re-boot. Pick a sound training plan based in the "big" exercises from an expert in the field (might I suggest Jon-Erik Kawamoto) and stick to it. Focus onintensity and progression and take your results to new levels.
Fitness professionals are a lot like you—they work long hours, have families, travel on business, and, believe it or not, they sometimes struggle with workout motivation. Here, a few tricks top trainers use to find time for fitness.
1. Change your mindset “My training is more mental than physical, so I don't view the actual physical activity as the difficult part. To me, what happens in the hours both before and after the workout is usually much tougher than any resistance training, CrossFit WOD, or HIIT routine. When I can absorb all of my life stresses (such as family issues, never ending bills, and career problems) and turn that negative energy into positive energy, I feel like I can take on the world. The trick is to let your life issues give you the energy to overcome any obstacle.” —Elliot Rivera, personal trainer, fitness entrepreneur, creator of #OccupyGym and owner of HealtHaven.com
2. Put exercise in your calendar “Truth be told, most days I find it tough to work out. Between running three companies, working as the director of exercise programming for another, and being a mom to a very active 3-1/2-year-old, exercise is only done if it's scheduled—and that’s my secret. Before the start of my week, I review what's expected and start setting aside time. I try to schedule something every day that is humanly possible, knowing there will be at least one day it doesn't happen, which is okay. My other secret is being realistic, as working out is good only if it makes me feel good and not guilty.” —Shannon Fable, Owner of GroupEx Pro, Balletone, Sunshine Fitness Resources & the Director Exercise Programming for Anytime Fitness Corporate
3. Focus on the task at hand “I do most of my workouts in the morning and sometimes, at 5:30 A.M., it feels pretty daunting to really challenge myself or to push a little bit harder. I always remind myself that I'm up early for a reason—to work out. I try to turn off the part of my brain that says, 'this is hard!' and instead just focus on the task at hand. The funny thing is that when it's over, I feel far better when I really give it my all rather than just phoning it in.” —Jennipher Walters, ACE-certified personal trainer and co-founder of FitBottomedGirls.com
4. Recruit a friend “On the days I find myself lacking energy to exercise, I ask around the office to see if anyone wants to work out. More often than not there is someone who feels the same way. A partner or a small group goes a long way when it comes to helping inspire a good workout.” —Dan McDonogh, Senior Manager Group Training & Development for TRX
5. Travel with a plan “When I’m jet-lagged from traveling across time zones and am gearing up for a full day of teaching, I try to take a mindful walk outdoors using a special playlist I have created just for such purposes." —Lawrence Biscontini, MA, mindful movement specialist and ACE senior group fitness consultant
6. Get creative “I remind myself that it’s easy to fit fitness in no matter how busy you are—you just have to be creative. If I’m at the gym teaching and have a little time between clients, I’ll do some Pilates moves or jump on a piece of cardio equipment real quick. At the very least I’ll get a plank pose in and some downdogs on the days I’m super slammed!” —Kristin McGee, celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor
Keith Levasseur ran Saturday's Baltimore Marathon in 2:46:58 while wearing flip flops. Levasseur will file paperwork with the Guinness Book of World Records to have the feat acknowledged as a world record for a marathon in flip flops.
Levasseur, a member of Maryland's Howard County Striders, ran his marathon PR of 2:38 at last year's Marine Corps Marathon. Before the Baltimore Marathon, he said his goal was to go sub-3:00 in flip flops.
"I had every intention of sticking to the race plan of finishing a little under 3:00, so my initial pace starting out was 6:40-6:50 [per mile]," Levasseur told Runner's World Newswire. "After a few miles, I decided I go with whatever pace I could comfortably run, even if it was faster than my target pace. I know there are some decent hills later in the race and I didn't know how I would be doing from a time perspective at that point, so I gave myself some wiggle room by letting go on the downhills and cruising in the low 6:00's."
Levasseur, who placed 29th overall among 3,024 finishers, said that fellow racers as well as spectators noticed his footwear. Runners, he said, "were supportive of the effort and after a 'you're crazy' comment or two, they wished me luck. I heard a number of spectators saying, 'Hey, that's the flip flop guy!' as I passed."
A little past halfway, Levasseur started to get a hot spot on the top of his right foot. (The farthest he had gone in training in flip flops was 14 miles.) "I knew that what would normally result in a blister wasn't happening because there wasn't any room due to the snugness of the strap," Levasseur said. "Instead I figured it would just rub away the skin, which is what it essentially did." (Learn how to deal with the unexpected in Top Race-Day Disasters to Avoid.)
Levasseur said that focusing on his form was key.
"I knew it was all about maintaining a very efficient and balanced stride," he said. "There were times when my feet and ankles would get tired from maintaining a more rigid stride than I might otherwise have and I would start landing more on the outside of the my foot and cause my heel to slip off the sandal. It only happened a few times and when it did, it would refocus my concentration on my stride and posture."
Levasseur said other challenges were cobblestones and railroad tracks, as well as uphills "since all the uphills were run more like stair stepping instead of fluid running."
The rules Levasseur had worked out with Guinness for record purposes required that he cover the entire course in flip flops; if one came off, Levasseur was to go back to it, put it back on, and then resume running. "They never fell off," Levasseur said. "There were times I would have to drive the front of my foot into the ground to re-secure the fit if they started to slide off. There were also a few times my heel would slip to the side, though they never touched the ground."
By the following day, Levasseur said, the balls of his feet were "quite sore," in part because "with the minimal padding and inability to place my foot like I normally do, I had to slap the front of my foot quite a bit, especially on the downhills." Levasseur said his ankles and quadriceps were also more sore than usual because of his altered gait.
"Many friends have asked if I'll do it again and my answer has been a resounding 'no,'" Levasseur said. "If someone breaks the record, I will simply congratulate them."
Gov. Brown vetoes bill restricting how motorists pass bicyclists
September 28, 2012 | 4:50pm
For the second time in two years, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed legislation requiring motorists to provide at least 3 feet of space between their vehicle and bicyclists they pass.
Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said the measure was aimed at reducing accidents in which motorists clip cyclists. Brown said in his veto message that he applauds Lowenthal’s commitment to improve bicycle safety but he objected to the bill allowing motorists to cross the center line if it is needed to provide the buffer space.
"Crossing a double yellow line is an inherently dangerous act that increases the risk of head-on collisions," Brown wrote. "When a collision occurs, it will result in a lawsuit where the state is likely to be sued as a 'deep pocket.' By making it legal to cross a double yellow line, the bill weakens the state’s defense to these lawsuits."
The governor noted that Caltrans had some ideas to improve bicycle safety but added: "Unfortunately, the author declined to amend the bill."
Lowenthal said he thought he had addressed the governor’s concerns by changing the proposal from last year. ``Inexplicably, the governor has moved the goal post and vetoed the legislation again, this time based on an 11th hour concern raised by some lawyers over at Caltrans,'' the senator said in a statement. ``Unfortunately, this governor has chosen faceless bureaucrats over cyclists’ safety.”
Drinking alcohol can sometimes raise your blood sugar. Sweet mixers and other drinks with sugar can cause your blood glucose levels to be high. Increases in blood sugar levels can be more dramatic after drinking if you are diabetic, because your body is less able to regulate glucose metabolism.
How it Works
Alcoholic drinks without sugar do not raise your blood glucose because they do not contain any carbohydrates that can be broken down to glucose, according to the Glycemic Index Foundation at the University of Sydney. Beer, port wines, liqueurs, wine coolers, some cocktails and sweet drinks do contain sugars that increase your blood glucose. Consuming more of these drinks will result in a bigger increase in sugar.
Alcohol can also make you hungry, according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois. If you eat carbohydrates while drinking, they will further add to the sugar in your blood. Your liver participates in the metabolism of both glucose and alcohol. When you drink, your liver begins to break down the alcohol first, which delays its response to changes in blood sugar levels, according to MayoClinic.com.
Types of Drinks
Alcoholic drinks that are less likely to raise your blood sugar include distilled spirits like vodka, gin and whiskey. They can be combined with mixers that do not contain sugar, such as water, club soda, seltzer water, diet tonic or diet soda. Other drinks that contain little or no sugar include dry wines, wine spritzers and light beer. If you are taking medications, consult your doctor about possible interactions that may affect your blood glucose.
While sweet drinks can raise your blood sugar, alcohol can also lower it. Heavy alcohol consumption on an empty stomach can result in hypoglycemia because your liver will metabolize the alcohol before breaking down its glycogen stores to boost low blood sugar levels. If you are diabetic, it is important to monitor your blood glucose after you drink and take steps to correct excessively low or high levels.
Photo Credit bread and bread-basket image by AndreyPS from Fotolia.com
Fat and protein can both be converted into glucose if necessary through a process called gluconeogenesis. The use of proteins or fat for gluconeogenesis requires more energy than the more straightforward metabolism of starches and sugar into glucose.
Gluconeogenesis occurs when additional glucose is needed by your body, such as after a bout of intense exercise. Glucose obtained from the breakdown of fats and proteins is the only kind of energy that the brain, testes and kidney medulla can use. It is also the only form of energy that your erythrocytes, or red blood cells, can use for their own source of energy.
Glucose is stored in your liver as glycogen. During periods of intense physical activity, or during starvation scenarios such as fasting, this glycogen is converted into glucose and released into your bloodstream. If this situation continues, the stores of glycogen in your liver become depleted. When this happens, your body turns to its storage of fat, converting adipose triacylglycerols into fatty acids.
During this process, glycerol is released. It is used for further gluconeogenesis, first by activating another trigger that releases amino acids stored in your muscles for conversion into further supplies of glucose. The trigger for gluconeogenesis is the release of amino acids from your muscles. The amino acids combine with other precursors to begin the process of making more glucose available.
Once all the protein has been converted into glucose, your liver turns its attention to the fats from your diet. The carbon left behind in your liver from the breakdown of protein is the basis for gluconeogenesis using fatty acids. One of the lesser-known functions of insulin is to regulate this fatty acid synthesis. When your body has more glucose available than it has immediate needs for, the excess glucose gets stored in your fat cells as fatty acids.
Produced by the adrenal gland, cortisol is a hormone that is released as a response to stress. Although cortisol provides numerous functions in the body, including regulation of blood pressure and boosting immune function, elevated cortisol levels can have negative health effects such as increased body fat, suppressed thyroid function and higher blood pressure. Besides relaxing to reduce stress, research indicates that taking certain supplements can have beneficial effects on lowering cortisol levels.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid that might be effective in reducing cortisol levels, according to findings reported in the 2004 issue of the journal of "Stress." Researchers examined the effects of phosphatidylserine on cortisol and pituitary adrenal activity. Subjects ingested a placebo or a phosphatidylserine dosage of 400 mg, 600 mg or 800 mg. Scientists observed that subjects who ingested 400 mg of phosphatidylserine experienced decreases in both pituitary adrenal activity and cortisol levels compared to those receiving a placebo. The study revealed that 600 and 800 mg of phosphatidylserine did not reduce cortisol levels.
In a 2003 study published in the journal of "Diabetes Metabolism," researchers studied the impact of omega-3 fatty acid rich fish oil on adrenal activation. Participants ingested 7.2 g of fish oil or placebo for three weeks. At the end of the study, scientists discovered that fish oil significantly blunted adrenal activation and cortisol output.
Dr. Samuel Campbell led a team of researchers that investigated the effects of vitamin C on adrenal function in participants subjected to stress, according to research presented at the 1999 American Chemical Society national meeting. Subjects received 200 mg of vitamin C or a placebo while undergoing stress. Scientists found that the vitamin C reduced the levels of stress hormones including cortisol. Although these results are promising, further research is needed, according to researchers.
PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY: Consuming the right fluids at the right times can deliver several health benefits.Photo Credit iStockPhoto.com
When you consider the fact that we’re a country dotted with coffee shops, juice bars and convenience stores that offer tanker-sized soda options, then it’s no surprise that many of us drink way more calories than we need to. In fact, adding empty liquid calories is one of the worst dietary offenses we make. But the problem isn’t just the added calories; it’s also that many junky drinks can also influence hunger and fullness—thus coaxing you to eat even more.
So, before sabotaging your diet with drinks that would be the dietary equivalent of a Cinnabon buffet, learn the best beverages to drink—and the best times to have them.
WHEN TO HAVE… WATER
>>You’re feeling fatigue, have a headache, or are just plain old grumpy: In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, participants who were dehydrated by more than 1 percent reported decreased mood, lower concentration, and headaches. According to the study’s authors, certain neurons detect dehydration and may signal other brain regions that regulate mood and cognitive functions. “A rule of thumb is that women need about 11 8 oz. cups of water a day and men need around 15 cups,” says nutritionist Amanda Berhaupt-Glickstein.
>>You want to lose weight: In meeting of The American Chemical Society, researchers found that over 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals three times per day lost about 5 pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake. Good guidelines: Drink two cups before every meal.
>>You exercise for less than 90 minutes: Just because you sweat doesn’t mean you should reach for a sports drink. Yes, you need water for rehydration and because it helps lubricates joints and provides cushioning to organs and muscles, along with many other vital processes. However, people often overestimate their needs for sugar and sports drinks when exercising, says Lisa C. Cohn, owner of Park Avenue Nutrition in New York. “Really, only water is needed unless you are active for more than 90 minutes with moderate to high intensity.” Drink about 15 to 20 ounces two to three hours before exercise, and 8 to 10 ounces 10 to 15 minutes beforehand, and the same amount every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise.
WHEN TO HAVE… TEA
>>You’re going through caffeine withdrawal: Black tea may be the way to go when you want to reduce caffeine consumption, says Lisa Roberts-Lehan, a certified health and nutritional consultant and holistic chef. “It has about 50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. cup, as compared to coffee, which has between 100 to 190 mg per 8 oz. cup.”
>>You have stomach issues: In Traditional Chinese Medicine, teas are said to improve digestion by neutralizing the stomach acids. Roberts-Lehan recommends Oolong tea to support the digestive system because of its detoxifying qualities, while Cohn advises such as earl grey or lady grey with bergamont and ginger for their stomach-smoothing qualities.
WHEN TO HAVE… JUICE
>>You need constipation relief: Prune juice is rich in vitamin C and minerals, such as calcium and iron. It also has high insoluble fiber content, which helps move waste through the intestines to be eliminated, says nutritionist Robin Miller, author of many cookbooks, including Robin Takes 5. Drink some on the morning to help balance out the nutrients in breakfast. Juice is best partnered with lean protein and complex carbohydrates to kick off the metabolism. Always look for 100 percent juice to avoid added sugars and calories.
>>You have a urinary tract infections (UTI): Cranberry juice contains substances that inhibit the binding of bacteria to bladder tissue, which can help prevent urinary tract infections, according to a study published in the Journal Food Science and Biotechnology. If you often suffer from recurrent UTI episodes, try a daily glass of 100 percent cranberry juice.
>>You have a high-fat meal: Having orange juice after double cheeseburger may help to neutralize the inflammatory response of a high fat meal. It may work because OJ works as an antioxidant, which would neutralize inflammation and help prevent damage to the blood vessels, according to University of Buffalo researchers. Drink one glass after a high-fat meal.
WHEN TO HAVE… COFFEE
>>You’re concerned about diabetes: “Coffee contains chromium and magnesium, two minerals that help the body use insulin—the hormone that controls blood sugar, which may help prevent Type 2 diabetes,” says Miller. If you’re not sensitive to caffeine, you can enjoy coffee—without added sugar, sugary syrups, or full-fat milk or cream—all day long.
>>You’re feeling the blues: Caffeinated coffee has been shown to have several health benefits in women. “For example, one study found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of endometrial cancer,” says Berhaupt-Glickstein. “Another study found the more women drank caffeinated coffee, the less likely they were to have depressive symptoms.”
WHEN TO HAVE… MILK
>>You want to shed fat: It’s good for strong bones, yes, but it may also help you burn more fat, according to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Subjects who followed a typical daily American diet (about 35 percent fat, 49 percent carbohydrates, 16 percent protein and 8 to 12 g of fiber) and received adequate dairy intake (3 daily servings of dairy with each providing 300 to 350 mg calcium and 8 to 10 g of protein) decreased their body fat by around 2 pounds. This was compared to the low-dairy (less than three servings) intake group.
WHEN TO HAVE… BEER
>>You want an endurance boost: Who would have thought that beer could improve your running time? “Dark beer has higher iron content than lighter beers. Iron is an essential mineral within all cells and it carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body,” says Miller. The more oxygen carriers you have, the easier your muscles can access the oxygen rich blood to keep you going. Miller explains that although beer is 93 percent water, dark beers are a good source of antioxidants that reverse cellular damage in the body. Antioxidants are what you need to fight the natural exercise response to muscle damage inflammation, which can fuel a faster recovery. A beer now and then with meal is fine, but it’s best to avoid alcohol consumption 1 to 2 hours before bedtime so your sleep isn’t disrupted.
WHEN TO HAVE… LEMONADE
>>You want some immune support: Due to its rich vitamin C content, lemons strengthen the immune system and are very cleansing, says Robert-Lehan. “Lemonade made from fresh lemons, water, and a small amount of sweetener, like stevia, raw honey, or raw agave, is detoxifying, freshening, and cooling,” she says.
WHEN TO HAVE… A SMOOTHIE
>>You need a meal on-the-go: Commercial brands pack on up tons of calories and sugars, so make your own. Roberts-Lehan says a healthy smoothie ingredient list should include: Lots of greens, fresh fruit, a water-to-milk ratio of three parts water to one part milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk (such as almond milk) protein-rich chia seeds, hemp seeds, all-natural almond butter, or a scoop of a green and/or protein powde
You’ve probably heard the “5-second rule,” the notion that if you pick up dropped food quickly, it remains germ-free. Actually, a high school student busted this myth in 2003, with a simple study involving gummy bears and cookies.
When Jillian Clarke put these foods on floor tiles infected with E. coli bacteria for five seconds, then analyzed the food for bacteria, she found that in all cases, the food was contaminated, putting anyone who ate it at risk for a nasty case of food poisoning. The teen’s research was honored by the Annals of Improbable Research with the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize in public health, the New York Times reports.
A more elaborate study, involving tiles, carpet and wood infected with Salmonella, and slices of bread and bologna, found that bacteria can survive on these surfaces for up to four weeks in large enough quantities to make people sick. What’s more, salmonella is transferred to food almost instantly on contact, researchers from Clemson University report.
Myth #1: Raw Foods Are Always More Nutritious than Cooked Ones
Fact: While followers of raw-food diets claim that eating uncooked food preserves all of the nutrients, research shows that this idea is half-baked. It’s true that heat destroys certain water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C, but cooking boosts levels of other nutrients.
For example, ketchup and tomato sauce contain up to six times more lycopene than raw tomatoes. Several studies show that this powerful antioxidant reduces risk for prostate and colon cancer, as well as heart disease. And since lycopene is fat-soluble, you need to eat cooked tomatoes with some fat (such as olive oil) to help absorption.
Myth #2. Skipping a Meal Slows Your Metabolism
Fact: Missing a single meal does not put your body into “starvation mode,” but may cause you to eat more at the next meal, because you’re hungrier. Research shows that it actually takes about two to three weeks of consistently low-calorie intake or at least 24 hours of eating absolutely nothing before there’s any significant change in your metabolic rate.
One study found after one to three days of total starvation, there’s a temporary rise in basal metabolic rate, while prolonged starvation lowers it, with the sharpest drop in obese people (explaining why it’s often difficult for very overweight people to slim down even on a very low-calorie diet).
Myth #3: High-fructose Corn Syrup is Worse than Sugar
Fact: The idea of that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is particularly harmful is “one of those urban myths that sounds right, but is basically wrong,” says the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group. In reality, both table sugar and HFCS are almost identical, nutritionally, with similar effects on the body’s levels of insulin, blood glucose, triglycerides, and hunger hormones.
The real problem isn’t the type of sweetener we eat, but the fact that Americans are consuming way too many empty calories, a key culprit in the obesity epidemic. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of six spoonfuls of sugar for women, and nine for men, without singling out any specific type, such as HFCS, as the sole dietary villain. Any food ingredient ending in “ose” is usually a form of sugar.
Myth #4: Fruit Juice is Healthy
Fact: While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, that’s not true of apple juice or other fruit beverages. While many people consider fruit juice a healthier option than soda, data from the Harvard Nurses' Study found that women who drink one or more glasses of fruit juice a day are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Conversely, the researchers found that women who eat three servings of fruit or vegetables a day had significant lower risk of diabetes than did those who ate fewer servings. Not only does eating fruit and vegetables provide healthy fiber and vitamins, but they’re filling, reducing the risk of weight gain (which in turn, raises diabetes risk.)
Myth #5: You Need a High-Protein Diet to Build Muscle Mass
Fact: To bulk up, you need weight training plus extra calories. However, there’s no need to gulp down high-protein shakes and meat galore—a myth that’s been circulating since the 6th century BC, with an ancient Greek strongman claiming that the secret of his athletic prowess was eating 20 pounds of beef a day.
While protein is a crucial nutrient for building, maintaining and repairing body tissues, a very high-protein diet boosts the threat of heart disease, impaired kidney function, bone fractures, and some cancers, including those of the colon and breast, according to Physicians for Responsible Medicine. In the typical Western diet, most people eat at least double the amount of protein needed for good health.
The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises people who are training for resistance sports, including weight lifting, to limit themselves to no more than 0.55 o 0.77 grams of protein per pound of body weight, as part of a healthy diet that also includes healthy carbs for energy and about 20 to 35 percent fat.
With 10 Simple Fitness Fixes that Will Improve Your Workouts
Jan 25, 2012 | By
You're only a strong as your weakest link. So find those links and strengthen them. Photo Credit Adam Gault/Digital Vision/Getty Images
If you were a Hollywood celeb or star athlete, you wouldn’t have to think about your workout. You could pay big money to hire a world-class trainer to do that for you.
But if you’re like most of us, you are the person in charge of your lifting plan – choosing your exercises, setting goals for sets and reps, and figuring out how to cram it all into the limited free time you have to hit the gym. So how do you design a workout that best meets your needs?
Thankfully, it’s easier than you think. The following series of simple moves will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. Once you know the areas where your body is powerful (and where it needs work), you can choose exercises to help you reach your fitness goals.
It’s important to understand how well your body performs the most basic of motions: bodyweight squats, pushups, overhead reaches and lunges.
Self-Assessments: Your Starting Point
Whether you’re a seasoned workout warrior or gym newbie, it’s important to understand how well your body performs the most basic of motions: bodyweight squats, pushups, overhead reaches and lunges.
These moves will tell you a lot about how stable and how mobile you are. If you’re stable, you’re in control. If you’re mobile, you have the range of motion to perform exercises with proper form. If you’re wobbly, shaky or just can’t fathom how your hips could ever sink into a squat, you’ve just discovered an area for improvement.
Assessment 1: Bodyweight Squat
The Test: Stand facing a wall with your legs a little more than shoulder width apart. Descend into a squat. Keep your torso upright, with your knees tracking over your toes. If you fall forward or your knees buckle inward, you’ve got a problem. Either your ankles, hips or upper back don't have enough flexibility to perform the squat, or your core doesn't have the strength to remain upright.
The Fix: To address mobility issues in your lower body, you want to open up your hips with exercises such as striders. You can also improve flexibility in your upper back by performing thoracic extensions on a foam roller. Lastly, you should do some planks to strengthen your core.
Striders: Start in a pushup position with your legs, glutes and upper back tight. Lift your right leg and bring your right foot to the outside or your right hand. Return to the starting position and repeat on the left side. Keep your entire body in a straight line during the movement – don’t let your hips drop. Perform up to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for each leg.
Thoracic Extensions: Lie with a foam roller underneath your back about halfway between your shoulders and hips. Your hips should touch the ground. Tuck your chin but do not stretch your neck, and keep your hips pressed against the ground as you extend over the foam roller as far as you can. Then bring your chin back upward, as if you were doing crunches. Perform two sets of eight to 12 extensions.
Plank: Start either on your hands in a typical pushup position or on your forearms if you find the pushup position too challenging. Tense all of the muscles in your body, including your back, core, glutes and lower legs. Hold this position for one to two minutes. Do up to four sets.
If your squat sputters, you need to work on your flexibility. Photo Credit Jim Smith
Assessment 2: Pushups
The Test: Set up in the top of a pushup with your arms locked. Lower yourself with control, tucking your elbows in toward your sides. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, then reverse the movement and drive back upwards to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions, paying particular attention to the following: Does your back remain straight? Were your shoulders wobbly? Did your elbows flare outward? If so, your triceps are weak or you don’t have proper engagement in your core and back to perform the exercise.
The Fix: If the problem was in your core, the fix is simple – add planks to your workout. If the instability felt rooted in your shoulders, try face pulls, which strengthen the shoulder retractors and external rotators. And if your elbows flared outward, dumbbell military presses will help.
Face Pulls: At a cable resistance machine, position a two-handled rope at the highest setting. Grab each end of the rope with an overhand grip and take a step back so that you feel tension on the rope. Your feet can be together or you can use a split-leg stance. Keep your posture straight as you pull each end of the rope in straight line toward your face. Use a lower weight for this exercise and focus on form. Do up to three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Dumbbell Military Press: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, held at shoulder height. Engage your torso so that your abs, lats and even legs are all supporting you as you push both dumbbells upwards. Your arms should be fully extended at the top. Lower the weights back to your shoulders and repeat. Perform up to four sets of six to12 reps.
Face pulls give your shoulders a boost. Photo Credit Jim Smith
Assessment 3: Overhead Reach
The Test: Stand upright with your feet parallel and positioned about shoulder width apart. Your hands should be at your sides with your palms facing inward. Engage your core – don’t let your ribs flare out -- and lift your arms forward, drawing a half-circle in front of you until your hands are over your head, your arms are straight and your thumbs are pointing behind you. Keep your back straight, and don’t let your lower back hyperextend. If you are unable to reach fully overhead, it’s an indication of poor upper back mobility, a weak core and even potential issues in your hips.
The Fix: This assessment goes hand in hand with the squat assessment, and tells you a lot about your shoulder mobility and posture overall. Many lifters have internally rotated or slouched shoulder posture, which the overhead reach will point out immediately. If your shoulder flexibility is less than you’d like, address it with shoulder stretches on a squat rack. For mobility problems in your back, try some foam roller work. Lastly, use squat-to-stands to fix any issues in your hips.
Shoulder Stretches: Find a squat rack or power cage, bend your arm 90 degrees at your elbow and place your forearm against one of the racks. Turn your torso away from your arm. Keep your trunk in a neutral position with your shoulders and hips parallel as you turn. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders and across your chest. Repeat on the other side. Hold each stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Do three to four sets.
Foam Roller: Roll back and forth on the foam roller, working out any tightness in your middle to upper back. Roll for 30 to 60 seconds, and do up to three sets. Then turn to your side, keeping the foam roller perpendicular to your torso, and roll out your triceps and lats. Move slowly and deliberately, taking deep breaths whenever you feel discomfort. Repeat the routine on your other side.
Squat-to-Stands: Grab the tops of your toes while trying to keep your back as straight as possible. Squat down, driving your knees toward the outside of your arms. Continue to hold on to the tops of your feet as you extend your hips back up. When you feel tension in your hamstrings or glutes, lower yourself back down. Repeat this pattern for up to two sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
Good posture is as important in working out as it is in every other facet of life. Photo Credit Jim Smith
Assessment 4: Lunges
The Test: Start by standing upright and take a step forward with your right leg. Plant your right foot squarely on the ground, shifting most of your weight into your right heel.
Lower your body, keeping your torso erect until both your back leg and front leg are bent at 90 degree angles. Your back foot should be up on your toes, and your left knee should just barely be touching the floor. Stay in control as you step forward with your left foot, bringing it directly alongside your right leg. Repeat on the other side. Throughout the routine, your hands can either be at your sides or pressed together in front of your chest.
If you have a tendency to shift side to side, or your front knee is falling forward of your toes, it indicates immobile hips or ankles.
The Fix: Work on the mobility of your ankles with a simple ankle mobility drill.
Ankle Mobility Wall Drill: Stand about one foot away from a wall with your feet flat. Keep your heels down, and drive your right knee forward, trying to touch the wall. Repeat on the other side. Perform eight to 12 repetitions for up to three sets.
Hip Thrusts: Your instability on lunges could be an indication of a weakness in your posterior chain -- the backside muscles including your glutes and hamstrings. Because of immobility and misalignment in your hips, your glutes typically don't work the way they should, which negatively affects your stability. Performing hip thrusts will reactivate your glutes and provide a dynamic stretch on your hips flexors on the front side of your hip.
Lie face up with your upper back on a flat bench and your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your torso and head in a straight line, lower your hips toward the floor. Then reverse the movement by powerfully contracting the glutes and thrusting your hips upward, extending your hips until your knees, hips and torso are in a straight line.
Hip thrusts strengthen your glutes and stretch your hip flexors. Photo Credit Jim Smith